If you’re wondering, “What is kief?”, it’s the stuff you’ve been looking for all your life. Seriously.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time pot partaker fresh off her first joint or a long-time canna-enthusiast who’s smoked many a joint, blunt, and bong (but somehow managed to miss the stuff at the bottom of the grinder — hey, we don’t judge), kief will make everything better.
But exactly what is kief? What’s the big deal? And how can you use kief to take your weed adventures to the next level?
In this article, the experts at Honest Marijuana give you the skinny on kief and why it’s ganja gold.
What Is Kief?
The Etymology Of Kief
Before we get to the biology and pharmacology of kief, let’s briefly discuss the etymology (the origin) of this weird word.
We have to admit that kief is a strange-looking term. The English language doesn’t have a lot of words with the “ie” construction. And certainly not many where those two vowels together make the double-e sound (as in keep).
It all comes down to the fact that kief isn’t really an English word. In true American style, we borrowed the word from another language — Arabic, to be precise. In that language, kief means ‘pleasure or intoxication’.
As you’ll learn shortly, that’s exactly what kief does. So it’s really no wonder we took that word as our own. But honestly, and to paraphrase The Bard, “Kief by any other name would taste as sweet.”
The Biology Of Kief
In cannabis biology, a kief is the bulbous formation on the tip a trichome (the resin glands of the pot plant that contain THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, and other active cannabinoids). Cannabis isn’t the only plant to have trichomes, but it is one of the few whose kief has psychoactive and medicinal effects.
In the case of the cannabis plant, the trichomes are a defense mechanism to deter hungry herbivores (like bunnies and deer) from completely devouring the leaves, stems, stalk, and all.
Should an intrepid plant-eater actually gnosh a bit of the wacky weed, the trichomes go to work to disorient the animal and prevent it from eating the rest. That’s the theory, anyway.
Maybe that “high” just gives them more reason to come back for a second dose.
The Pharmacology Of Kief
Collectively, kief is the word marijuana enthusiasts use to refer to the terpenes and cannabinoids of the cannabis plant. Kief is a more pure and potent part of the marijuana plant, which is why it’s prized as an additive in everything from bongs to blunts, vaporizers to vape pens, and hookah to honey oil.
What’s The Big Deal?
As we touched on above, kief is where all the action is. Basically, the kief is the stuff that gets you high or gives you the medicinal effects you’re looking for. That’s why it’s such a big deal.
But sometimes, you can separate the kief from the plant matter so you have a 100% pure psychoactive/medicinal substance. That’s when things get really interesting.
How Can I Get Ahold Of My Own Kief?
You could, we suppose, buy kief at your local dispensary. But it would probably cost an arm and a leg.
By far, the easiest way to get ahold of your own kief is to purchase and use a grinder. More specifically, a four-piece or three-chamber grinder.
A four-piece grinder is composed of a lid, a grinding chamber, a collection chamber, and a kief chamber. You put your dried and cured weed in the grinding chamber, attach the lid, and give the whole thing a good screw (no not that type of screw).
During the grinding process, two things happen:
- The buds are sliced and diced
- The kief is dislodged from the plant matter
The ground-up leaves fall through the screen at the bottom of the grinding chamber into the collection chamber. If you continue to agitate the grinder, the free kief will fall through the screen at the bottom of the collection chamber into the kief chamber.
After a while, you’ll amass enough of the sticky powder in the kief chamber to do some really cool things.
How To Get Piles Of Kief Out Of Your Grinder
A huge pile of kief doesn’t just magically appear in the bottom of your grinder after only one or two uses.
It takes time and patience to harvest that ganja gold. But the wait is worth it. We promise.
Below we give you the lowdown on the best way to get plenty of kief out of your grinder.
Get The Right Grinder
We mentioned it earlier in the article, but to get the most kief for your grinding efforts, you need to have the right piece of equipment.
In this case, that’s a three-chamber (four-piece) grinder.
You’ll see one-chamber and two-chamber grinders out there — and you can collect kief from these if you really want to — but to maximize your yield, you need that third chamber.
Why? Because three-chamber grinders are designed in such a way so as to separate the kief from the ground-up weed that you use in your joints and bongs.
A single-chamber grinder is simply a small bowl filled with “teeth” (and a lid) about the size of a hockey puck. When you grind your weed in a single-chamber grinder, everything stays mixed together because it has nowhere else to go.
A two-chamber grinder adds one more bowl below the grinding area. During the grinding process, the chopped weed falls through small holes and collects in the holding chamber.
Some kief will separate out in the very bottom of the holding chamber, but the majority remains mixed in with the ground weed.
That’s where the three-chamber grinder comes in.
The three-chamber grinder adds a screen and one more chamber on the bottom. The ground weed falls into the holding chamber where it’s stopped by the screen because the pieces are too big.
But kief is much smaller so it continues to fall into the bottom bowl where, over time, it collects into a glorious pile of concentrated canna-goodness.
If you don’t have that third chamber, you’re SOL.
So beg, borrow, or steal (don’t steal) a three-chamber grinder — then learn how to use it correctly in the sections below — so you can enjoy kief in all its grandeur.
For more information on the benefits of making a grinder part of your permanent cannabis kit, check out this article from the HMJ blog: How To Use A Grinder: A Step-By-Step Guide.
If you’re new to grinding for kief, here’s a simple step-by-step tutorial to get you started.
1) Assemble All The Pieces
Make sure you’ve got all the pieces assembled correctly before you move on to the next step.
2) Load The Grinder
Break your bud into smaller pieces and place in the grinding chamber. Don’t put too much weed in the center of the grinder. This is where everything pivots, so weed placed there may not get as ground as the stuff toward the edges.
3) Grind, Grind, Grind
Put the lid on, hold the bottom of the grinder with one hand, and rotate the lid with the other hand. You’ll feel some resistance at first, so don’t be afraid to give it a little muscle. Grind until you feel the resistance disappear.
4) Tap, Tap, Tap
Before disassembling the grinder, tap the whole thing against a hard surface (or even the palm of your hand). Doing so helps separate the kief from the cannabis and drive the kief through to the bottom chamber.
5) Enjoy Your Cut Cannabis
Disassemble the pieces of your grinder and enjoy the fruits of your labor. If this is your first time grinding, there probably won’t be much kief to speak of.
But, over time, more and more will collect in the bottom bowl until you’ve got so much you’ll be sculpting it into a mountain like that guy from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (just kidding, you probably won’t ever get that much).
Grinder Tips From The Pros
Grinding marijuana isn’t rocket science and you’ll figure out what works best for you over the course of three or four grinds.
But here are some pro tips we’ve learned from our years and years and years in the cannabis game (yeah, we’re old).
- Get a grinder with plenty of teeth and holes.
- Turn the grinder upside down for a few turns.
- Don’t overfill the grinding chamber.
- Purchase an aluminum or zinc grinder if you can afford it.
- Put a clean coin in the collection chamber to help knock the kief through the screen (a dime works really well).
It’s also essential that you keep your grinder clean or the sticky icky is going to gum up the works eventually and then you’ll be sad.
We’ve got a whole article on how to clean metal, plastic, and metal/plastic grinders in the HMJ blog. It’s appropriately entitled How To Clean A Grinder In 5 Easy Steps (we like to make things simple for y’all).
Check it out for lots of great advice on keeping your tool clean.
In the meantime, here’s a brief summary of the five steps.
1) Disassemble All The Pieces
Separate everything into its constituent pieces for easier access to all the nooks and crannies.
2) Pop The Pieces In The Freezer
This step is optional, but it helps separate the plant matter (including the kief) from the metal or plastic surfaces.
3)Tap, Brush, Scrape
Give the grinder pieces time to reach room temperature so they aren’t brittle from the cold, and then tap each one against your hand or a hard surface so that the big chunks of plant matter fall out into a bowl or onto a cutting board.
Then, brush all the surfaces with a toothbrush to remove as much of the canna-leftovers as possible.
Finally, use a toothpick or a dab tool to scrape off any stubborn gunk that doesn’t come loose from the tapping and the brushing.
And, as an extremely important side note, don’t discard any of the plant matter that comes out of your grinder while you’re cleaning it. That’s still good stuff!
4) Soak Or Boil
For metal grinders, soak the pieces in isopropyl alcohol until the liquid turns a light brown color.
For plastic grinders, place the pieces in a pot of hot water and let them sit for a minute or two (not too long or too hot or the plastic will melt).
5) Let Dry And Reassemble
Set the pieces of your grinder on a towel or wire rack to dry.
When all the water is gone, reassemble everything and get to grinding again.
Now that we’ve discussed at length how to get your hands on a pile of kief, let’s discuss what you’re going to do with it.
How Do I Use Kief?
One of the many wonderful things about kief is that you can use it in so many awesome ways. Remember that it’s basically concentrated cannabinoid.
2) Joint And Blunt
Using kief like this is a great way to upgrade low-quality weed (and the low-quality experience it produces) to the grade-A stuff you’ve been dreaming about.
4) Moon Rock Weed
Many call moon rock weed the strongest cannabis in the world. We don’t know about that, but we do know that it’s a heck of a good time.
5) Thai Stick
A Thai stick is buds of seedless marijuana skewered on a stem, rolled in cannabis oil, sprinkled with kief, and wrapped in a whole marijuana leaf to form a swag shishkabob. When all is dry, you smoke a Thai stick just like a boss cigar or mega blunt.
Hash (short for hashish) is a cannabis concentrate made from fresh resin glands (trichomes) that have been separated from the plant matter of a marijuana flower.
Hash is basically kief that — through mechanical means such as heat and pressure or by mixing it with water — you form into a brick, bar, block, or ball.
There are several easy ways to make your own hash from the kief you produce in the bottom of your grinder, including:
- Hand rolling (the most basic and traditional method of producing hash)
- Pressing with a hot iron
- Blending and straining
- Passing kief through several bubble bags
If making hash is something you’d like to try, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for the four methods mentioned above in this article from the HMJ blog: How To Make Hash: The Complete Guide.
Check it out!
Did you know you can extract the essence of kief (called trichomes) directly from the cannabis plant without grinding? It’s true.
With a simple process we’ll describe in a moment, you can transform the kief into a liquid (a rosin) and squeeze it “out of” the plant matter (it actually comes off the surface, but that’s just being pedantic).
To make your own rosin, you’ll need a number of supplies including a hot iron and some parchment paper.
Pack the parchment paper with a bit of bud, insert it between the two sides of the hot iron, and then press together for a few seconds.
For a more in-depth breakdown of the rosin-making process, check out this article from the HMJ blog: What Is Rosin: The Ultimate Guide For Cannabis Enthusiasts.
8) Coffee And Tea
One of our favorite ways to consume kief is in our coffee or tea.
It’s super easy! All you have to do is sprinkle a pinch into your mug and stir. The heat from the liquid will dissolve the kief and activate the cannabinoids it carries.
As with all edibles — of which coffee and tea are two — the cannabinoids have to be digested before they reach your bloodstream, so the onset of effects will take a while.
The good news is that those effects will be stronger and last longer. That’s just the way edibles work. And, honestly, we’re glad for it, because our kief coffee is what we rely on to get us out of bed in the morning and through to lunch.
For more on cannabis coffee and tea, check out these articles from the HMJ blog:
- CBD Coffee: 6 Benefits And How To Make Your Own
- Cannabis Stem Tea: What It Is And How To Make It
- How To Make Your Own CBD Tea
What Are The Best Strains For Kief?
Chemdog (or chemdawg) is a hybrid strain derived from the Kush, Hash Plant, and Northern Lights cannabis plants. It offers a decidedly pungent aroma with the earthy flavor of diesel thrown in for good measure.
Once consumed, Chemdog produces a happy, uplifting, euphoric experience. That makes it a great addition to any edible, joint, blunt, or bong.
2) Sour Diesel
Sour Diesel is a sativa strain bred from Chemdog, Northern Lights, and Skunk No. 1. Like its parents, Sour Diesel has a very pungent and earthy diesel smell and flavor and produces a happy, euphoric, and uplifting high.
3) Blue Dream
When consumed, Blue Dream generates an inspiring, euphoric, relaxing high. Need to unwind before bed? Steep a bit of Blue Dream kief in your chamomile tea and sleep like a baby.
4) Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies
Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies is a hybrid cross between the Durban Poison and OG Kush strains. These buds taste and smell minty and sweet (just like the cookie) and bring on a happy, relaxing, and euphoric feeling (just like eating a whole box of those cookies by yourself).
The kief from Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies is very useful as a flavoring in everything from brownies to tea and coffee. Plus it has that awesome psychedelic kick.
5) Fruity Pebbles
Fruity Pebbles is another hybrid strain created from the DNA of Green Ribbon, Granddaddy Purple, and Tahoe Alien. Like its namesake, Fruity Pebbles has a sweet, tropical berry flavor that can’t be beat. And like other strains on this list, its effects are happy, relaxing, and euphoric.
So if you’re looking for a one-two punch of flavor and psychedelics, the kief from Fruity Pebbles is a great choice.
6) Cherry OG
Cherry OG is a mix of Thai, Afghani, and Lost Coast OG strains that gives off a very citrusy and earthy herbal taste and smell. The kief from Cherry OG produces a happy, relaxed, and uplifted feeling so it’s a great additive to your vape juice to help you relax after a long day.
7) Kandy Kush
Kandy Kush is a cross between OG Kush and Trainwreck. Its taste and smell are sweet, earthy, and pungent, followed by happy, relaxing, and euphoric effects. Sprinkle a bit of Kandy Kush kief in your joint for an added anti-anxiety kick.
Don’t Dismiss The Power Of Kief
Regardless of the strain you choose, don’t dismiss the benefits of the dust at the bottom of your grinder. It has the potential to make your next smoke sesh a truly unique, fun, and powerful experience.
So save your kief however you can and use it every chance you get. You won’t be sorry.
For more information on all things marijuana and to check out our 100-percent all-natural cannabis products, visit HonestMarijuana.com today.